Cross-country skiing requires more than strength and speed -- it demands a thorough knowledge of snow conditions and the right type of wax on your skis.
So when a heavy storm swept through the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Falun, Sweden, on Tuesday, the Americans needed to make a thoughtful choice to pull off the best result in team history.
Jessie Diggins and Caitlin Gregg finished second and third, respectively, in the 10-kilometer individual freestyle to mark the first time two U.S. racers have reached the podium in an individual Olympic or world championship event.
"This is something that I’ve been dreaming about for a long time, and for this to come true?" Gregg said. "It’s amazing."
Weather made the race -- won convincingly by Charlotte Kalla of Sweden -- especially tricky. The forecast snow did not begin to fall heavily until midway through the day.
An early starter in the staggered field, Gregg finished before things turned ugly. Diggins, on the other hand, competed in inclement conditions.
"It was hard to see anything, and it was getting slower all the time," she said. "The climbs were getting soft."
Though the Americans were able to adapt with fast skis, the favored Norwegians chose their wax poorly and finished out of the medals.